Is it a hobby or a money saving machine?

It's Spring! Have You Started Your Garden Yet?

by Laura Foor

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Yay! It's springtime! It's a time of year we all look forward to as it represents a time of transition from cold to warmer weather. Spring also represents a time of newness, making it the perfect time to start thinking about doing some spring planting. Some of the more favorite vegetables growers tend to plant in the spring include lettuce, carrots, radishes, broccoli, beets, onions, peas, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and peppers.

Growing your own food in your own garden can make for a very satisfying experience. This a great way for you to have a few fresh and healthy foods right at your fingertips, and you're going to save some money off your grocery bill. Nice! If you happen to find that you truly enjoy growing your own food and would like to continue to do so, you could even put this money into a "My Garden" jar for future garden expenses. So, have you started prepping for your backyard garden yet?

How to Start

Many people are surprised to learn how easy it can be to start a backyard garden. Basically, you need an area for planting, good soil, seeds, and some time to take care of your new garden. It's important to choose a sunny location (six hours of sunshine minimum) and one that drains properly. And start small. You don't want to take on too much or you may feel overwhelmed, which takes all the fun away.

Related: Frugal Seed Starters

What to Grow?

First, you'll need to find out what types of foods grow well in your area (simply perform an online search for gardening zones). Next,if you're brand new gardener, try to choose only one or two foods to plant, as each one comes with its own set of instructions. Colleen Vanderlinden, gardening expert, suggests growing tomatoes. "Fresh, homegrown tomatoes are the reason many gardeners get into vegetable gardening in the first place. There's just nothing that compares to eating a perfectly ripe tomato."

For those who tend to be on a tight food budget, Kendra Wills, Food Educator at MSU offers this advice, "To save money, grow more expensive items, like tomatoes and melons, or large quantities of vegetables that you purchase regularly." Keeping a chart of your gardening expenses, as well as how much food has been harvested, will help you keep track of exactly how much money you're indeed saving.

Also, keep in mind that some vegetables actually grow better when grown together. Known as companion planting, Leslie Allen, horticulture program coordinator says, "Companion planting may reduce competition for water and nutrients, decrease pest and disease problems, and possibly increase vegetable production.

Saving Money

Of course, one of the best benefits to having your own backyard garden is having instant access to fresh and healthy foods. But you're also going to save some money, too. And that's good news, especially for larger families on a firm food budget. Niki Jabbour, author of how to garden books, believes having a green thumb can save you some green. "Growing your own vegetables will lower your grocery bills (potentially by hundreds of dollars a year) and put fresher, tastier produce on your table."

Here's a great idea. If any of your friends are currently growing vegetables, start a friendly competition to see who can save the most money!

Related: 5 Steps to Saving Money with a Lasagna Garden

No Backyard?

If you don't have the room in your backyard to plant a garden or have no backyard at all, don't fret. You can simply use a few strategically placed containers. Although not ideal for those who are looking for a larger yield, using a variety of containers does allow you to plant a variety of fruits and/or vegetables. Phil Dudman is an overall expert on gardening topics and offers the following advice, "

On the Rise

A 2014 report by the National Gardening Association shows that 35% of all households in America are now either growing food at their home or in a community garden, an increase of 17% in the past five years. This is great news as this means that more than 42 million households now have access to more affordable fresh and healthy food choices.

Reviewed March 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • A great frugal garden begins with frugal planning. Here's how to get started.
  • Confined indoors but still want to garden? Then consider indoor container gardening.
  • Gardening on the cheap is simple. Just visit the TDS Frugal Gardening Guide and we'll show you the many ways frugal gardeners maintain beautiful, bountiful gardens for less.
  • You tend your garden with care. Do the same for your finances. Start weeding out that debt and pruning that budget with the TDS ebook How to Conquer Your Debt No Matter How Much You Have so you can begin to grow your money.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

Laura Foor is a freelance writer who specializes in writing quality articles for online publication for 6+ years. Graduating from UCB with a degree in Environmental Sciences in 2009, she also works part time as a Farmers Market manager where she focuses on healthy food education.

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